Sophomore’s big weekend just in time
It seem the distance between De Soto's starting varsity line up and the junior varsity teamwould would be sizeable.
Not so for Wildcat sophomore Erik Hill.
Hill, who opened the 2005-2006 campaign as a regular starter with the varsity squad, saw his minutes diminish as the season drug on, eventually to the point where he was playing significant minutes on the JV level.
But Hill's rise from junior varsity has been just as quick, and his recent red-hot play came just in time for his varsity teammates.
Hill capped the best week of his young career with a 16-point performance Saturday in De Soto's 66-56 overtime win over Osawatomie. That performance came just one day after he reeled off 12 points in a single quarter in a losing effort against Gardner Edgerton.
"He has been playing one or two quarters of JV, but that may be done," De Soto coach Jim Bonar said Saturday. "His shot's falling, his defense is going good and he's rebounding. He's always in there getting rebounds."
It was a rough road for the 6-foot-1 guard after his initial success early in the season.
He averaged just two points a game through the first three games, then scored just one point through the next three.
Bonar said Hill earned the starting spot with his dynamic play in practice, but fell into a rut when the season finally kicked off.
"He's just a sophomore, so we thought, 'he's not getting as much time on the varsity, let's get him time on JV,'" Bonar said. "He performed down there just fine. He never said a word. It never seemed to affect his attitude. Now he's playing great."
Playing great, to say the least. Barely topping 10 points in the entire first half of the season, Hill erupted Friday against Gardner, slashing the Blazers for 12 points in the second quarter alone. Hill connected on a pair of 3-pointers and set the stage for a big Saturday.
He topped himself against Osawatomie, nailing a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and another in the overtime period.
"Erik's turning on. He was starting for us and that's what we'd see in practice," Bonar said. "Now maybe he's finally getting it through him and it's a great time to start helping out the team."
His timing couldn't have been better against Osawatomie. The sophomore helped the Cats to their second win in three tries this season over the intra-league rival.
De Soto salvaged its final game in the Spring Hill tournament Saturday by dominating the overtime period against the Trojans.
As ugly as things appeared at times throughout the week -- a 1-2 record for the tournament wasn't on anyone's agenda -- the Cats looked well oiled and in pristine condition in finishing off the Trojans in overtime.
Austin Clearwater's bank shot tied the game with four seconds remaining in regulation, but the Cats scored the four-minute overtime period's first three points and went on to score the next nine after Osawatomie answered back with its only two overtime points.
Andre Linzy started the period off with a layup and Scott McElvain, who led De Soto in the game with 23 points, added a free throw.
Add in a Hill trey, a Taylor Burnett put-back and another Linzy layup and De Soto had blown open the game en route to a 10-point win.
"We're trying to figure out why we piddle around until the end," Bonar said. "We got defensive stops when we needed them. We knocked down our free throws and we executed our offense. It was a totally different team in the overtime period. We don't know why that is."
The win secured seventh place in the tournament, narrowly avoiding a last-place finish. De Soto lost to Gardner Edgerton Friday, 67-52, letting a four-point game slip away in the fourth quarter.
Hill's 12 points led De Soto in the loss.
The Cats also played Wednesday in a makeup game against Wellsville. Results were not available at press time.